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An electric bus that wirelessly charges at each stop

Posting in Technology

One of the challenges with electric buses used for public transit is keeping them on the road all day without putting them in the garage for long charging sessions.

But new technology could make electric buses more common in transit fleets. That's because researchers at Utah State University have unveiled first-of-its-kind technology that wirelessly powers buses.

The Aggie Bus (above) is, according the university, the first developed by a North America organization that is powered wirelessly and the world's first electric bus with wireless power transfer technology that has a power level up to 25 kilowatts, an efficiency of more than 90 percent between the power grid and battery, and at least a six inch air gap between the charger and bus. The best part? The bus battery can charge at bus stops as it picks up passengers.

Next year a Utah State University spin-out company, Wave, Inc. (which helped develop the Aggie Bus), will partner with the Utah Transit Authority to provide the first commercial demonstration of the bus, in 2013. And passengers of the bus won't notice a difference.

“Current battery limitations prevent an all-electric transit bus from operating all day from an overnight charge,” said Wesley Smith, CEO of Wave in a statement. “WAVE solves that problem by charging the bus wirelessly during its daily operations when the bus stops to load and off-load passengers. This technology makes electric buses competitive with their diesel hybrid and CNG counterparts.”

But it's not just buses that will benefit from this technology, according to Robert Behunin, Utah State University's vice president of commercialization and regional development:

“As a result of the work done by Utah State engineers, scientists and partners, EV owners and operators will now be able to simply drive over a pad in the ground to recharge their batteries, the benefits of which reach far beyond convenience.”

Photo: PR Newswire

— By on November 19, 2012, 1:55 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure